Boot strapping is an old term in North America and is often associated with company start-ups and resourcing. In Mexico bootstrapping has another name. Mexicanadas. The ability and/or result of finding solutions quickly and cheaply.
As gringos, our tendency is to laugh at Mexican quick fixes in Puerto Vallarta. We see them as shortcuts and laziness. In truth, they are essentially genius. Macgyver should have been called McGarcia.
Automotive repair comes to mind; it’s not unusual to see Mexican men walking long distances of roadway, eyes fixed to the ground. A car is parked somewhere on the shoulder; most likely impounded by life’s trivial inadequacies. A nut, a bolt, a wire has come loose and been lost. To get the vehicle running again, the missing piece will be replaced by the ingenuity of one who’s learned and understands the inside and outside of most any automobile.
Waste not, want not. Certain cultures simply recycle better than others. Once, in a shoe repair shop in Puerto Vallarta, we watched a cobbler resoling Mary Janes, the single strap, black shoe worn by all Mexican schoolgirls. He was carefully measuring and cutting plastic milk cartons, fastidiously gluing them to the middle layer of sole. The result is a shoe that will last through several children, handed down to sister, cousin, daughter.
Construction sites in Puerto Vallarta are the location of a great deal of inventiveness. Workers climb about jerry-rigged scaffolding like ivy twisting on a vine and commonly don’t use cement mixers. They mix concrete directly on the street or dirt, smooth it out when finished, and have little equipment to lug around.
A fisherman on the beach has no need for a fancy rig to make a catch. He simply wraps fishing line around a stick and likely will catch more fish than our expensive fancy rod and reel.
Our favorite personal story of a Mexicanada that saved the day was when we assumed we were off on a simple errand, a pleasant outing. In our old, doorless Combi (VW mini-van), which we used to transport everything from livestock to building material, we set off for Boca de Tomatlan to retrieve piles of pillows for our new dining area banquette. We stuffed the Combi full, shut all shuttable doors and headed back home. As we climbed the steep grade out of the village we heard a loud snap and the car died with a horrible shudder. While we waited for a miracle in the middle of nowhere, our mozo set off to find a solution. In less than an hour we were trundling back down the road to Puerto Vallarta with a “fan belt” fashioned from a piece of polypropylene, expertly braided to join one end to the other. It broke just as we rolled into the mechanic in town for a permanent repair.
Mexican children observe adults in their lives and learn to not be frustrated when problems arise. Patience is probably the most important ingredient for Macgyver solutions. We’ve heard “if it can be done, leave it to Mexicans to figure it out and for free.” We wholeheartedly agree and enjoy being witness to Mexico making an impact on the international scene with their ability to set the mind patiently to work and solve problems without much ado.
Que es cómo es.
Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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